Red Sonja #8

Sonja is still on the quest to bring the legendary artisans together for the dying emperor’s final bash (for which he will set free 1,000 slaves as reward). Red Sonja has been travelling with the highbrow cook that she saved from the swamp. She’s in pursuit of the great entertainer the Beast Lord, who she had previously sworn to kill. She’s also facing some.. uh, “hungers” that the cook won’t indulge. Every moment of this is perfection. 

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This page (is probably too small to read) but the end when she says “I’m Red Sonja, I’m everyone’s type” LOVE IT

When they arrive at the festival to recruit the Beast Lord, he is in the middle of a barbaric show involving abused and hungry hunting dogs and a bear raised in captivity to fight for it’s master. It’s cruel and grotesque. The utilitarian Sonja makes no qualms about digesting animals but watching them suffer so enrages her. Mid performance, she draws back an arrow seemingly intending to kill Beast Lord, but instead she provides a quick death for the bear. This earns the cook and Sonja a trip to the dungeon. She tries to climb out (Gribaldi could have escaped this fate if he’d used his clout, but he does not wish to consort with an animal abuser- I know it’s a “vegan thing” but I would like to point out that last issue, the cook fed baby lizards to swamp people and incurred the wrath of large humanoid-lizards, so not exactly a poster child for causing animals grief… but I digress). Sonja tries to climb out but Beast Lord comes along to smack talk and stomp on her hand. Ouch.

They are visited by Rat, Beast Lord’s assistant -and the one that the animals really love. She says that she hates him and that she will set Sonja and the cook free. She meant half of that. They end up in the arena, about to be killed for sport. Sonja HAS been down that road. The cook blames Rat, but Sonja spares her. She didn’t really have a choice. Rat, in turn, triple crosses everyone and sets the animals out. They attack their abuser first, but they are hungry animals and it’s only a matter of time. Beast Lord dies. But Sonja opts to bring Rat to provide entertainment (and gets a playful lick on the cheek from a tiger). 2 of 5 collected! And on to the next!

My favorite aspect currently is Walter Geovani’s interpretation of Sonja, she has a regular sized waist, thick thighs a body befitting of a travelling sword slinger. She’s gorgeous but not girly.. and on this particular journey… she’s ditched the bikini in favor of a Xena-esque dress. The art is amazing and splendid, #7 took place in a grimy swamp, this one in a more decadent and exotic setting, lush colors and battle scenes that were busy but not disjointed.  

Frison’s cover is fantastic. Minimal but very very ominous.

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Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash #6

This series was wrought with delays, employed immature tropes and the last issue annoyed me to no end. But this was the last issue and I’d pressed on this long. So after Cassie betrayed Ash and left him in ancient Greece, what would become of her?

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Cassie takes on Britt Cilentro and heads back to the Ig’nant Mime Squad concert where overweight and underwashed teens had their sodas spiked and turned into Black Paladin stab happy dombies (that’s a demon-zombie, kids). This issue really tugged at my heart strings, Cassie is willing to cross time and space, fight deadites, cult leaders, suped up GI Joe wannabes and more to save Vlad from his fate. So she goes back to where Vlad died. But Ash, in a moment of maturity tells Cassie that he’s been down this road. But some other awful thing always happens. If she saves Vlad; what if she doesn’t marry Margaret and adopt Sandra? What if she has a whole different life that no one else remembers? 

And Cassie listens, and she doesn’t save Vlad. And she goes home with her wife and Ash babysits while they see the new Denzel movie. 

So I give Tim Seeley credit. Because he’d really lost me with #5. I was PISSED. Here’s the thing, though; it didn’t feel totally authentic until Ash asked Cassie to call him if she and Margaret ever wanted to make a reverse Oreo. 

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That’s Tim Seeley’s cover. None of that happened. But metaphorically it makes perfect sense.

Legends of Red Sonja #3 + Red Sonja #7

Red Sonja double review special:

With Legends of Red Sonja #3, we jump right in to “The Palace of the Necromancer” which was written by Leah Moore. Writing comic books is in Leah Moore’s DNA, Alan Moore is her father, and she has written for the Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes comic book series; proving that she’s no stranger to writing strong lead characters. In this tale a traveler has joined up with the Grey Riders to hunt Sonja because long ago Sonja offered to destroy Zaul. Zaul is a necromancer caught in stasis, draining the life from nearby crops, who is guarding a vast treasure. The man breaks the spell and a hoarde of zombies rises. He blames it on Sonja, of course. Not on the fact that he’s a greedy hog who couldn’t resist the treasure. Nicola Scott’s Gertrelle’s Lament finds a witch women who scapegoats Sonja as well. The old woman was piecing together an old and powerful ritual, only to have the sacrifice made into Sonja’s supper. This story was my fave in the issue, the art by Doug Holgate was quirky and cartoony and fit well with the attitude of that particular ‘legend’. In “Gerd’s Story: What lies beneath” written by Rhianna Pratchett, art by Naniiebim, Sonja is in her alternate costume: full sleeve chainmail and red hotpants. This was long ago, when Sonja was new to being a warrior. Gerd made Sonja her chainmail bikini: diversion tactic. Anyway, Red Sonja infiltrates the Grey Riders while they are deciding whether or not to keep hunting her, and she kills the leader with an arrow through the eye she didn’t take.

Red Sonja #7, Gail Simone and Walter Geovani triumphantly return with a new story arc and new mission for Sonja. She’s sent to recruit to world’s 6 greatest artisans for a shindig for a dying ruler, Samala. The utilitarian Sonja doesn’t care for such festivities, but Samala says that if she is successful, he will set over 1000 slaves free. So she goes to a swamped area inhabited by cannibal foodies in search of the world’s greatest chef. They have him captive. Red Sonja gets followed by the bogmen who criticize her dinner of rabbit on a stick, which she kills one with, and through a series of events she gets captured and put on the menu. She meets the cook, Gribaldi, and finds that the cook has been deceiving the bogmen and feeding them infant reptiles and setting the captured free. All hell breaks loose when the giant gator people get wind of their cooked young. “There’s the problem with exotic cuisine, sometimes, it simply refuses to be eaten.” Sonja keeps herself and the cook on the top of the food chain!

Comicbook Catch-up Extravaganza! Numero Dos!

Featuring Army of Darkness vs. Hack/Slash #5, Lazarus #6, Ms. Marvel #1

Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash #5

I’ve really enjoyed this series. Despite the chronic late release of the issues it really maintained momentum for me because I loved LOVED seeing Ash and Cassie play off of eachother. The 2 badasses breaking heads with their unconventional weapons, enemies and friends from each series. Fun. Good. This one flew in the frigging face of all of that. The end of last issue featured their hook-up. Cassie’s in a committed relationship with Margaret- so one of two things spring to mind for me: 1) she’s trying to confuse Ash or 2) the writer is a shallow idiot who thinks bisexuals are all sluts. Either way she’s deceitful. 

The duo get to Ancient Greece, turns out Britt the cult leader went back in time and met with Akakios who was an alchemist and “created the principals that the cult followed” and icing on the cherry hate cake? He killed Cassie’s old partner Vlad. They throw a wild party in Ancient Greece to attract Akakios and his cult and deadites and they burn ’em to a crisp. Cassie goes berserker and beelines for Akakios himself, “Changing the past is bad” Ash says, Cassie KO’s him and he knows he’s been played. But not only did she play Ash…she played Margaret. To “Bring back the only thing she ever loved. Vlad.” 

WHAT THEE FUCK?

Thankfully, issue 6 is the last. Because fuck all that shit. Ash and Cassie are now enemies at odds for possession of the Necronomicon.

Ms. Marvel #1

Kamala Khan, teenage supe, writer of Avengers fanfic, shapeshifter and Muslim. Her family is varying degrees of assimilating and she just wants to be a “regular teen” like her classmates and go to parties. So she sneaks out to a party with boys and booze on the waterfront. Her BFF Bruno tries to get her out of there, and she’s all “MYOB” and storms off.. then a crazy for starts to permeate the area. Kamala Khan gets KO’d and has a drugged out dream about the Avengers, and her homegirl, Captain Marvel. And she wishes, “I want to be beautiful and awesome and butt kicking and less complicated. I want to be you.” And Carol Danvers says, “All right, kid. As fate would have it, you’re about to get the kind of total reboot most people only dream about.”

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Epic debut. Kudos to G. Willow Wilson for calling out concern trolls and stereotypes. So pumped to find out what’s up with the fog, or what’s up with Captain Marvel being her fairy godmother. I repurposed that photo from Jeremy Roberts’s deviantart. http://jprart.deviantart.com/art/All-New-Ms-Marvel-412376037

Lazarus #6

Flashback again, to mini-Forever doing pushups on her thumbs and conjugating Latin verbs, she’s taking her training with Marisol too far.

In the present she wakes up to an alarm, takes her regimen and then she receives the text again. “He is not your father, this is not your family.” Joanna is still sporting a black eye and playing innocent. Flash to Montana, we see the family whose home was destroyed. The cost to rebuild will have them taxed out for the foreseeable future. Back in LA, a woman propositions the guards in exchange for food and others break in and set up a device to hack the keypad. They steal canisters of acetylene. Forever catches them in the act, but she directs her wrath at the guards taking advantage of a hungry woman. Forever asks her where the others have taken the canisters. And the Barrets leave Montana for Denver in hopes that their children can work for the Carlyles. Will this play an integral role? Will they start an uprising? Will Forever discover what’s really happening outside of her family? So many questions. 

Rucka has built this insane world. It’s bleak, it’s dark… and sadly, it’s very very real. Carlyles have infinite wealth and resources and meanwhile we see families giving up all they’ve got, their time, their dignity, their land, their children, they sell themselves out. It’s very blood and guts, but no major revelations this issue.

Red Sonja #6

After the big review in #5 that Bazrat was behind bringing Sonja and Annisia together as combatants, the two women are still in the arena. Bazrat, with a woman at his side, one whose husband was killed by Bazrat; reveals that he spread “the plague” to destroy armies that stood in his way. Worse, he assembled Annisia’s army without her knowledge, so she has killed for him. Again.

Annisia, haunted by those she killed in battle, and now those that she has murdered, loses her already weak grip on reality. She lashes out at Red Sonja. Then at Bazrat. Generals Ayla and Nias corner Annisia’s soldiers and threaten them with flaming arrows.

It happens quickly, alliances made and broken, curses, threats, avenging those long gone and recently deceased.  The last issue of the first story arc ends both in sadness and celebration for Sonja.

Red Sonja gets her vengeance against the one who killed Dimath. Ayla and Nias become full grown bad-asses. Annisia gets some peace. The Taverns get reopened.

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Dar Annisia was certainly a complicated “villain” (I’m using the term loosely). She thought she was doing the right thing, she couldn’t live with what she had done and it drove her crazy. Real crazy. Massive survivors guilty, PTSD. And she was furious with Sonja for being able to move on. But how much has Sonja “moved on”? Sonja drinks too much and can’t stay in one place too long, she has trouble relating to other people. She deals with her past better than Annisia, but that’s all.

The ending of this issue was such a surprise that I don’t even want to explain too much, it’s just better in color.

Certainly a great wrap up for the first story arc. Sonja’s past is behind her now. Enemies vanquished. I wonder what’s up next for our red haired warrior. And I do hope that Nias and Ayla make an appearance again soon.

This came out on my BDay, Gail Simone tweeted HBD to me!

This came out on my BDay, Gail Simone tweeted HBD to me!

Army of Darkness vs. Hack/Slash #4

Yay, this series is back on schedule! This one was originally supposed to be out in October

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subscription cover by Ken Haeser.

Ash and Cassie are on the hunt for more pages from the Necronomicon. Washing off goopy blood in the motel sink they meet up with a friend of Cassies; Cat …who travels with a dog. She’s a government employee and she has another tip. In this area over the past three weeks, four children have gone missing. What’s really weird is that they are all related to Benjamin Blackswell, who lived in Stamford, CT between 1644 and 1701. Witch trials + Necronomicon + strangely high rates of disappearances? yeah, sounds right.

Especially cool? the fact that since that was 300+ years ago: no one would have made that connection. But for Cat, running genealogies is a “hobby” making her meticulous and Sherlockian… and a blonde hottie in a pink sweater who travels with a dog so fierce that Ash mistakes it for a mole horse deadite. …it is actually a demon dog, which Cassie travelled with circa 2011, Bomb Queen versus Hack/Slash era.

The issue begins with a flashback to the past where Sarah Toothaker is saved from certain death (being hanged for being a witch). She’s not a witch, she just denied the advances of the Magistrate and it earned her a spot on the gallows. But somehow she appears in the future, in a pile of bones, with a man who knows her name. Hmmm…

Sarah has some out of wedlock, unheard of in her time, intercourse with this man. The man is the former lead singer for JesusFist. During a tour, they stopped at a flea market and he found one of Sarah’s journals and through her words: he fell in love with her. 

Cassie and Ash get a little tense (Ash was trying to make a lesbian threesome joke. Cassie didn’t approve… because he fetishizes the hell out of her relationship. Not cool.) But to lighten the mood, he teaches her to moon cars. 

Then they see a deadite man-bat.

Peter (from JesusFist) is chaining Sarah to a stake… she’s blindfolded. Ready to hang are the kidnapped children. Peter is feeding them to the deadite. Paying a tithe for bringing Sarah back. Sarah is outraged and disgusted. Their heritage, being descendants of Blackswell is not their fault. As the deadite is about to get his meal… Cassie arrives.

She blows off the deadite’s head, makes some threats and then Ash falls in a hole full of deadites that try to drag him to hell.. oh. boy. The deadites, not satisfied without their four soul meal..

Then Sarah starts to go deadite. The souls were an exchange for hers. Peter cries that Sarah was born in the wrong time. Sarah says she would rather die. Peter waffles… and so Ash takes matters into his own hands, behinding the 17th century maiden.

Cassie looks remorsefully at the brokenhearted Peter. He’d tried to find a better way, but that was the only spell that they would sell him. 

Cassie and Ash drop the five children (still with their heads covered at a near by Qwik Stop. The boys are pretty unfazed. Cassie tells them that no one will believe the demon stuff, that they should say it was drug dealers or terrorists. 

Then… Cassie Hack and Ash make out!? Ash protests “What about your girlfriend? You guys got that cute little kid–“

Elsewhere- The redhaired cult leader is getting it on when the book calls to her. The necronomicon tells her that “A new history begins”

The villain and victim in this issue was awesome. Peter fell in love with Sarah for her mind, through her words. …goofily, because her “poetry” was “so metal” 

But Cassie and Ash making out? I hope there is some angle. After repeatedly having her same-sex relationship fetishized by the pervy and being highly offended by it… them hooking up… is nonsense. Honestly, the whole idea of it is so bullshit. I would rather they go the “friends forever” route instead of …whatever is happening. If they become love interests… I’m going to be mad! And everyone should be. It’s been hinted at that Cassie is bi -and that’s all good and fine, but Ash making “jokes” about her sexuality and making out with her while she’s unconscious… he deserves a knuckle sandwich, not kisses. Please please please… move away from this. It’s inappropriate and degrading to have Cassie’s committed homosexual relationship presented as temporary and fleeting for laughs for horror fans. STAHP

Red Sonja #5

Check out the Becky Cloonan variant cover ❤

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Guards under the command of “Red Annisia” are lounging over a campfire when they see an enemy approach, the decapitated heads of their fellow soldiers are thrown in front of them. It’s an ambush. It must be an army.

“Verdes. It’s not an Army. It’s the curse of the Hyrkanians. It’s the Devil! The Devil! The Red Sonja!”

Red Sonja is back from the brink of death, still smelling of the dirt of her own grave.

None the less, she accepts the men’s surrender and orders a meeting with Annisia. She’s still taking medicine sent from the new King (Dimath’s son, as Dimath has fallen) and travelling with her two young body guards. They take her to see his grave, she is outraged that he is not buried in a way that befits his status, as the only monarch she ever met worth a horse’s ass she demands that he deserved better. And maybe he did. But the girls explain that Annisia ordered them to burn his body with the horses and the sisters did the best they could.

Sonja remembers Dimath freeing her and Annisia, of him calling them daughters and warning them to not let the evil that was done to them become who they are. It’s good advice if you can take it.

Then they set off again to get the rest of the cure for Sonja. In an area near The Sundered Board, a tavern… where she will go… for purposes of rest. Not just for drinking, but mostly for drinking.

Nias: “Sadly, O Queen of all fermented beverages …the hated Dark Annisia shut down all taverns and public houses.” 

Annisia told the townspeople they should pray and contemplate their sins. As she does. Annisia, on a cliff, talks to the ghosts of those she’s killed. They are lonely. They need more dead to keep them company. Limbless bodies with swords through their skulls, men with arrows jutting from eye sockets haunt her. She gets news that Sonja has returned and orders that all the men, women and children of Patra be locked in a tower and burned alive. 

Ayla and Nias try to prove their worth, acting as generals, insisting they will take back Patra and the townspeople will be safe. 

Sonja and Annisia suit up properly! and go to face off in the arena where they were made. Annisia, with her massive frigging survivor’s guilt reminds us again how she got so damn evil, she felt abandoned, Sonja left her with the dead. And Sonja moved on, she was embraced, she became a hero. Sonja tells her it was her own choice to do the evil she has done. She’d hated spilling blood in the arena. Dark annisia is not the woman Sonja loved, the one she called sister.

But then: the two discover that they are not alone. 

They’ve played right into the hand of King Bazrat, the Zamoran who ordered them to kill, who ordered their deaths 3 years ago. 

With a proper enemy, will they be able to set things right? Will they team up? Will Bazrat’s death be the last that Annisia’s ghosts need? Will Annisia sacrifice herself for Sonja the way she planned to 3 years before?

Ahhhhh! So many questions.

Next: Finale!